By Bill Berry
A key gateway to NRCS and conservation district services just got bigger.
Conservation Client Gateway, the secure online web application for landowners and land managers, is now available to business entities in addition to individual landowners. So, if your family-owned farming operation is a limited liability corporation or another business entity consistent with USDA’s entity categories, you can now access the Conservation Client Gateway. Earlier versions limited access to individual landowners.
Conservation Client Gateway gives landowners and land managers the ability to track their payments, report completed practices, request conservation assistance, and electronically sign documents online anytime, anywhere.
That doesn’t mean you won’t be visiting your local USDA service center or conservation district for personal assistance, or that your conservation professional won’t be visiting your operation. Conservation Client Gateway just jump starts the process. It’s meant to reduce the number of trips you need to take, and to increase flexibility for the producer.
As acting Wisconsin State Conservationist Maggie Rhodes noted in a recent news release, “Our goal is to make it easy and convenient for farmers to work with USDA by offering more options.” Want to complete and sign an application for a conservation program from your home office? You can do that. Review and sign conservation plans and practice schedules? Yep. Document when you’ve completed practices and request certification for them? Yes. Request and track payments for conservation programs? You can do that, too. The service also allows producers to securely store and retrieve technical and financial files.
Now that spring planting season is here, can you access the Conservation Client Gateway from your tractor? Yes. Conservation Client Gateway is a desktop application with dynamic screen sizing for mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones. However, it is not strictly a mobile application, so your user experience may change while using mobile devices. A new Mobile Payments App will be released later this year and will allow you to track your conservation payments from a smartphone or tablet.
Conservation Client Gateway is voluntary, so producers still have a choice between conducting business online or traveling to a USDA Service Center. Customers can log in 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Conservation Client Gateway is part of the agency’s ongoing Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative (CDSI), which will feature additional capabilities in the future. One of the key goals of the Initiative is to free field office and conservation district technical staff from office burdens so they have more time to assist producers in the field. NACD focus groups, surveys, and other outreach to producers have consistently identified this as a concern. A major long-term goal of the CDSI is to provide a tool for field office and conservation district staff that simplifies the development and implementation of conservation plans. That means more conservation on the ground across the country.
To sign up for Conservation Client Gateway, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/clientgateway and click Get Started. If you need some additional help getting started, you can still visit your local field office for some “screen time.”